Nigerian Born Salwa Eid Naser, 400m silver medalist at the ongoing World Athletics championship in London, says she is happy to have chosen Bahrain ahead of Nigeria. The 19-year-old, coached by Bahrain-based Nigerian John George Obeya, achieved her dreams on Thursday by setting a new national record to win both her heat in 50.57 seconds and the semi-final in 50.08 seconds. After the race, Naser was asked if she had any message for the new board of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria, AFN and she said, “I don’t really have anything to say to them.
“The past three years have been a great transition for me and I’m glad. I have nothing to say to the AFN.”
Salwa Eid Naser told IAAF she was simply interested in winning.
“No, I wasn’t. But I was training hard and hoping for the best. Coming here I really hoped to do something. I feel so happy. It wasn’t about beating Allyson Felix. It was about getting a personal best and a medal. I just had to push through and try. I didn’t see anyone in front of me so I didn’t know what position I was at until the results came through.”
When they flashed up on the big screen, she first saw the name of Phyllis Francis, the winner in 49.92, then her name, second in 50.06, followed by that of Allyson Felix, who she had out-leaned at the line to demote to third in 50.08.
“I feel so happy,” said Salwa Eid Naser. “It wasn’t about beating Allyson Felix. It was about getting a personal best and a medal.”
For Naser, it capped a remarkable journey that started many years ago in Nigeria, continued in Bahrain, and had memorable moments of glory in China, Colombia and finally the UK along the way.
At 19, it made her the youngest ever woman to reach the podium over 400m at the IAAF World Championships, and her coach is in no doubt what that means for her future.
“I’m looking forward to her taking over the quarter mile,” says Obeya. “I have no doubt in my mind.”
Salwa Eid Naser
Born in Nigeria to a Bahraini father and a Nigerian mother, Salwa Eid Naser was aware of her talent early in her childhood, outsprinting kids in street races and winning her first competitive race at the age of 11. She also won her first 400m race soon after, though it hurt so much that afterwards she resolved never to do the event again.
Luckily, though, she did, and in 2014 she took gold over both 200m and 400m at the Arab Junior Championships in Cairo. Later that summer she ran a personal best of 52.74 to take silver at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
It was in 2015, however, that the world of athletics truly got to know her name, Naser taking gold over 400m in 51.50 at the IAAF World U18 Championships in Cali, Colombia.